7 WORDS EVERY GAY MAN SHOULD KNOW ON HIV
If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with HIV you might have a lot of scientific jargon suddenly thrown at you, so it’s good to update that vocabulary and get yourself armed for future appointments and conversations.
1. ART (Anti-retroviral Therapy)
ART stands for anti-retroviral therapy, which is the current standard of treatment for HIV across the globe. ART is the combination of several antiretroviral medicines used to slow down the rate at which HIV makes copies of itself in the body.
2. Viral Load
If you’re HIV positive you’ve probably already heard of this. For guys who don’t know, viral load (VL) refers to the measure of number of HIV particles in one’s blood system – the higher your viral load, the greater the risk of transmitting HIV.
With treatment, some poz guys can lower their viral load to an undetectable level and dramatically reduce risk of transmission (if kept undetectable for over 6 months and in the absence of any STI’s). So it’s important that poz guys monitor their VL regularly.
Adherence means that you take your HIV medication exactly as prescribed and continue to do so from when you first start treatment. Adherence will lead to reaching an undetectable viral load.
5. CD4 Count
CD4 cells (also known as T-cells) activate the body’s immune system, allowing the body to fight off infections. Keeping the number of CD4 cells (your CD4 count) in the desired range is a very important part of HIV treatment.
Serosorting is a strategy that aims to limit condomless sex to people of the same HIV status. In order for this strategy to be effective, men must not only know their own status but also the status of their partners.
7. Serodiscordant / Seroconcordant
A serodiscordant relationship is where one guy is HIV positive and the other is not. This contrasts with seroconcordant relationships, where both partners are of the same HIV status be that either both poz or neg.